1. Description of Our Community
We entered our Web site in CyberFair Category: Local Attractions Description of 'Our Community': The Discovery Centre SmartSchool is unique as it serves students with interest in technology. The teachers try to integrate the curriculum with technology, making movies, websites, and presentations out of it. All the classrooms have wireless 1mbps internet access with student : computer in the ratio 2:1. Presently we have 109 students and 13 teachers. Because the school believes in giving individual attention to each student, the classroom strength is kept under 15. We are in a modern locality of Karachi, Pakistan called Clifton. Most of the students live nearby and because there are lesser students in the school, each child knows the other and we are like a family. Discovery Centre SmartSchool is located in Karachi, the business capital of Pakistan with a population between 12 to 18 million. People come to Karachi for the beaches and the food. The food of our city is craved for in all other parts of Pakistan and also in other countries. We have food streets where people hang out every day. Also we have a gray sand beach which is never empty and some other beaches. The lakes in Karachi are also a good recreation for people who cannot spend a lot of money at food streets and cinemas. A part of 18 million people, we consider ourselves special because of the exposure given to us at school and the open environment that our teachers have given us.
2. Summary of Our Project
Students first searched about the local landmarks and found Manghopir to be the most exciting. They also thought giving scientific reasoning with each legend would change the perspective of the locals who believe the place has some spiritual powers. Also, the purpose of our project was to enlighten the kids of today about this place. Being children, even we did not know we had hundreds of crocodiles lying around at at a drive of 1 hour from us. So, after the research, we made videos and took pictures and decided to educate the other students of our school. We brought each of the class to the Media Lab (where we have the Multimedia projector) and gave them a presentation on the place. The students were so excited that they talked the principal into taking us to Manghopir on the next Field trip. Then, we wanted to educate the children of Karachi about this place. It was not possible to visit each school so we wrote to Young World, DAWN Newspaper about the project we were doing. We gave a project summary and BINGO! It was in the next weekly edition of Young World (Picture in the media gallery) Next was to make the website. All of us have knowledge of making websites but still, working together on making the website would just cause a chaos, so we divided parts among ourselves (with the help of our teacher) and created our parts. We were overloaded with pictures and wanted each one to be there, so we thought of a media gallery. It was fun!
3. Our Computer and Internet Access
A. Percentage of students using the Internet at home:more than 50%
B. Number of workstations with Internet access in the classroom:4-6
C. Connection speed used in the classroom:dedicated connection
D. Number of years our classroom has been connected to the Internet:4-6
E. Additional comments concerning your computer and/or Internet access (Optional):
We are fortunate to be a part of Discovery Centre SmartSchool with a wireless internet connection of a 1mb speed. We have 6 Pentium 4 computers in our classroom so research, development of the website was not a problem. Also, we took work home as 1 hour a week was not enough. All of us have internet access at home with speed ranging from 256kbps to 512kbps.
However, there was a problem when our network administrator went off on a holiday and the internet started giving trouble. We had to do extra work at home in those days.
4. Problems We Had To Overcome
Problems We Had To Overcome: The biggest obstacle that we had to overcome was that the area of Manghopir is considered dangerous. There are bandits hiding in places on the way to Manghopir. When the school agreed to take us there, our parents refused. When our parents agreed, the school refused. Finally, they reached an agreement to send us with 2 of the male staff of our school and 2 from our parents.Another was time, we found out about the project later, it was January 2009 and had to hurry to finish it. Especially with Sports Day and Annual function on its way, we had to manage the time in a way that we would be able to practice for those too. And of course, the locals at Manghopir speaking our native language Urdu. The videos had to be given narration along with subtitles for the locals interviews. Apart from all these, there was another problem that arose in the middle of February, JAUNDICE! Three of us fell sick with jaundice and were not allowed to come to school for 3 weeks. I’m sure you can imagine the rest.
5. Our Project Sound Bite
As a result of our participation in CyberFair, Discovery Centre SmartSchool has been connected to the Global Classroom once again. Along with that, we got to see the area of Manghopir, which was just a name to us.
Also, how do we forget the free lunches at our favourite restaurants with our teachers when we gave extra hours at school!
6. How did your activities and research for this CyberFair Project support standards, required coursework and curriculum standards?
This project supports the outcomes of our Language Arts curriculum. During the duration of the project students had opportunities to read, write, speak and listen. They took information, synthesized it and published the information for a world wide audience. Students learned interviewing skills - the necessity of preparation before the interview, how to conduct an interview, the amount of work involved in transcribing recorded conversations, and how to take the information and put it in a narrative form. Students had lots of opportunities to read, write and conference about their writing procedures. In this way many Language Arts skills were reinforced. Students became familiar with the World Wide Web and learned how the internet works. They also learned how to put information on the web by means of hyper text mark-up language (html). Through the project they became aware of some of the problems associated with the internet, as well as the many benefits that it offers. This was an enrichment project and it fit in well with our commitment to meet the needs of all students. It gave these students an opportunity to delve more deeply into the interviewing process, the writing process, and the technology tools available to assist both of these processes. Students were given a chance to find out about local legends and folktales, instead of just studying about foreign legends and folk tales. Students learnt how folktales and legends develop and how deeply they affect some people.